Pointing out numerous deficiencies in the implementation of the UPA governments flagship Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) and the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) in the worst Naxal-hit districts in the country,the Planning Commission has asked the Rural Development Ministry to undertake corrective measures at the earliest.
Sources said that after field visits in these Naxal-hit districts,a team of officers sent by the Planning Commission found serious shortcomings in the implementation of NREGS and PMGSY. The team of officers visited these districts as part of an exercise to prepare an integrated action plan for 35 worst Left Wing Extremist (LWE)-affected districts announced in the budget this year.
In case of PMGSY,the officials have reported that the districts have been facing shortage of funds due to which projects approved as early as 2007,2008 have yet not been fully funded,leading to contractors shying away from taking contracts.
In another revelation,the team is learnt to have found that the relaxation of norms ordered for allowing road projects in such areas have not yet reached these districts. The government had relaxed the norms to cover habitations having population up to 250 in Naxal-affected districts,as against habitations of up to 500 allowed for connectivity under the PMGSY.
The team is learnt to have reported to the Plan Panel that it has found the district-level officials unaware of this relaxation of norms,sources said.
In case of NREGS,the officials found lackadaisical planning of work in these districts,leading to long-wait for beneficiaries to avail employment,up to six months of delay in wage payments,lack of convergence with other schemes and less than required funds being given to these districts,affecting creation of job opportunities for the poor sections.
In this backdrop,the Planning Commission is learnt to have written a stern letter to the Rural Development Ministry,asking it to look into these issues in the LWE districts and take corrective measures at the earliest.
The Planning Commissions directive to the ministry holds significance in view of the governments two-pronged strategy tackling law and order situation and speedy developmental works getting attention at the highest level. The Cabinet secretariat is monitoring the progress of developmental activities in these districts.
The Plan Panel is learnt to have also suggested that rural connectivity projects under the PMGSY must keep security arrangements in mind and should ensure that the roads are inter-connected for safe movement in these regions.